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Most Scenic Fly Fishing in Western NC - Cullasaja River

Most Scenic Fly Fishing in Western NC - Cullasaja River

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The new year has already proved to be challenging for many families throughout the Southeast. Parents are still juggling working from home and helping children with remote learning. We are still spending endless hours video conferencing inside our houses with little opportunity to get out and about. Add in the cold of winter, and it can feel like the walls are closing in every day. You need an escape. As spring brings warmer temperatures, you need the clean air and rolling waters of western North Carolina and the Great Smokey Mountains. 

For some, the perfect mountain getaway is a hotel room with a view of a ridgeline. It involves shopping and exploring high-elevation cities. For others, it is an opportunity to get away from the concrete jungle and reconnect with nature. Fly Fishing in the Cullasaja River is an experienced angler’s dream trip. You will find few places as untouched and remote while still convenient to charming towns like Franklin and Highlands. Here is why we want you to choose the picturesque Cullasaja River for your next fly fishing getaway.

The Cullasaja River in Macon County, NC

Located entirely in Macon County, NC, the Cullasaja is a short but stunning beautiful river stretching from Highlands to Franklin. The name Cullasaja (cool-uh-SAY-juh) means “honey locust place” in Cherokee. There were several key Cherokee towns along the river, including Nikwasi, where a thousand-year-old platform mound remains. 

Flowing from Lake Sequoyah, the river has carved a deep, scenic gorge through east-central Macon County. The Mountain Waters Scenic Byway offers stunning views for drivers on highways U.S. 64 and NC 28. There are four waterfalls along the 23-mile river, including:

  • Bridal Veil Falls
  • Dry Falls
  • Quarry Falls (Bust-Yer-Butt Falls)
  • Cullasaja Falls

Eventually, the Cullasaja reaches Franklin, where its waters join with the Little Tennessee River as it snakes through the Nantahala National Forest. Aside from March, when the river is restocked, anglers can fish the Cullasaja any time of the year. Is the fishing good? 

What You Can Catch on the Cullasaja

The Cullasaja is hatchery-supported and well-stocked. That means there is plenty of trout to catch. In addition to the hatchery trout, you are likely to find wild Rainbow trout. Named for the broad, pink, and red lateral stripes running the length of their olive-green bodies, Rainbow trout love the fast currents of the Cullasaja. You are also likely to hook a wild Brown trout, which you can identify by its olive-brown to yellowish color and the dark spots with yellow or white circles on its back and sides. 

While there is unmatched beauty and an abundance of fish to catch in the Cullasaja, we do not recommend this river for beginners. You need the experience and expertise of the guides at Turning Stone's Fly Fishing. 

Experienced Cullasaja River Trout Fishing Guides

There are few places we would rather be fly fishing than the Cullasaja; however, this is one of the more technical waterways in western North Carolina. Without a level of experience, safety can quickly become an issue. Plus, you are going to have to get off the beaten path a bit to truly find the best trout in the Cullasaja and its tributaries. Our guides are likely the only ones who really know the wild areas well in this beautiful river. Here is just a little about our expert guides:

  • Gordon Vanderpool: Gordon began fly fishing as a teenager in southwestern Pennsylvania, where he was raised. He has snagged great catches from as far away as Nevada, California, and Belize. However, he and his wife decided to settle in western North Carolina, where they started Turning Stones. Gordon is a Certified Casting Instructor for the Federation of Fly Fishers and the  Southeastern Coach of the USA Youth Fly Fishing Team.
  • Paul Bourcq: Paul began fly fishing with Gordon in 2008. With Gordon’s training, Paul embraced the sport and made his way to Captain of the North Carolina Fly Fishing Team in 2011. He later became the U.S. Youth Fly Fishing Team coach, winning two world championships in Italy and Ireland. Paul is an FFF Certified Master Casting Instructor and loves to train new anglers. He believes the waters in western North Carolina are the best in the world for this sport.

If you are ready to explore the Cullasaja River trout fishing scene, the guides here at Turning Stone’s Fly Fishing have the experience and expertise to provide the best experience here in western North Carolina. We offer tours throughout the area and love to show off this beautiful area. Contact Turning Stone's Fly Fishing today to schedule your trout fishing getaway.